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14 May 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Tsepo Moeketsi
Prof Ashafa
Prof Ashafa’s research documents plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments.

The Phytomedicine and Phytopharmacology Research Programme (PPRP) in the Department of Plant Sciences on the Qwaqwa Campus researches the biological effects of medicinal plants used in the folkloric medicine of the Eastern Free State, particularly to explore the values and contribution of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) towards broader scientific research. This is according to the programme’s principal investigator and researcher, NRF C2-rated researcher, Professor Anofi Ashafa. 

 “Our research is mainly aimed at documenting plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments and to further discover, isolate, and purify active phytoconstituents that are responsible for disease curation or amelioration, thereby assisting in the global promotion of accessible and affordable medication in developing countries,” said Prof Ashafa. 

Since 2012, the PPRP has worked extensively on Basotho medicinal plants (BMP) used as antimicrobials, antioxidants, antidiabetics, antitubercular, anticancer, anthelmintic, and antidiarrheal agents, starting from biological activities up to the  evaluation of the toxicity of these plants for the kidney, liver, and heart functions in order to establish safe dosage parameters. These activities have led to the discovery of four potent antidiabetic biomolecules that are awaiting the processes of patency and commercialisation. Additional outputs include 104 published peer-reviewed articles , 7 postdoctoral fellows, 6 PhDs, 9 master’s, and 16 honours graduates. 

“Our research informs teaching and the development of expertise in ethnobotany, 
phytomedicine, and phytopharmacology in order to contribute to the National Development Plan (NDP) through human capacity development, skills, and knowledge transfer.

The group is also investigating some medicinal plants on the endangered red list of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), through micropropagation and field trials as well as proposing conservation strategies to preserve these valuable species.

The PPRP consists of postdoctoral fellows, PhD, master’s, and honours students and research is done in collaboration with several local and international universities as well as the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa. 


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Prof. Hennie Snyman named national agriculturist of the year
2009-11-18

Here is Prof. Snyman (right) with Adv. Koos Nel, Marketing Manager of Old Mutual, one of the sponsors.
Photo: Ben Rootman

This past weekend Prof. Hennie Snyman from the Department of Animal, Wildlife and Grassland Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) became the second agriculturist in a row at the UFS that was named the national agriculturist of the year by Agricultural Writers SA. This honour was bestowed upon Prof. Maryke Labuschagne from the Department of Plant Sciences at the UFS last year. Prof. Snyman is, amongst others, honoured because he is one of the few South African agriculturists that are making a comprehensive contribution towards the Grasslands and Agricultural Sciences.

His broad field of research over the past 32 years has been the sustainable utilisation of the grasslands ecosystem in drier areas in particular. Various other grasslands projects in various fields have also been undertaken by him. The adjudication took place in five categories, namely the contribution towards agriculture in general, the contribution towards the development of the farmer, adaptation to changing circumstances in the agricultural industry, national and international recognition in the agricultural industry and the field in which he is an expert and achievements already attained. Prof. Snyman received the award during a dinner of the Agricultural Writers SA in Pretoria.

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